Today marks the 1 year anniversary of my installment as pastor at Del Ray Baptist Church.
I took the day to spend time in prayer and reflection of what the Lord has done in my life and our church over the past 365 days. It was a sweet discipline and one that I intend to keep up yearly until the Lord calls me to no longer serve as a pastor.
I share this because I think this kind of discipline is good for us, whether we are in full-time ministry or not. Setting aside time to reflect on God’s grace in our lives helps us to see ways we’ve grown and areas we still need to grow in. What follows is how I spent the day.
- I praised God for His saving grace in my life. 1 Timothy 1:15 “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” May we never get over His amazing grace in our lives.
- I praised God for my wife and children. Proverbs 18:22 “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” Next to Christ, my wife is the greatest blessing I have known in this life. She is the model of a helper who lays down her life so that mine can be better. I love her dearly.
- I praised God for calling me into full-time vocational ministry. 1 Corinthians 1:26 “consider your calling…” It is an honor to not only be called to know the King, but also to serve Him. I was freshly baffled and honored by the call.
- I prayed through our church’s directory and interceded for each member of our church. Hebrews 13:17 says I and the other elders will “give an account” for each of these people.This is a daunting and delightful challenge. My love for this flock grows daily.
- I praised God for my fellow elders. Ephesians 4:11 “He gave…pastors and teachers.” The elders I serve along side of are godly men whom I love dearly. They have put up with my craziness and supply so much that I lack. They are truly a gift from the Lord to me and our church.
- I reflected on my journal and praised God for His work. Psalm 33:4 “all His work is done in faithfulness.” I usually only journal when things are going really well or really bad, so I come off as crazy in my journal, but the Lord surely is seen as faithful. Man I’m glad He doesn’t say “yes” to everything I ask for.
I spent devoted time in 1 Timothy today. What follows are a few questions I was challenged to consider and share with our elders.
Is the goal of all we do love? Are we cultivating a church that loves God and others? (1 Tim. 1:5)
How are we guarding our church and ourselves from swerving into shipwreck? (1 Tim. 1:6,19; 6:21)
Jesus came to save sinners, are we on this mission? (1 Tim. 1:15, 2:4-6)
Are we praying fervently for God to raise up qualified elders and deacons? (1 Tim. 3:1-13)
Are we intentionally disciplining ourselves for the purpose of godliness? (1 Tim. 4:7-8)
Are we toiling and striving toward the life to come because God is our hope? (1 Tim. 4:8-10)
Are we immersing ourselves in God’s word so others see our progress? (1 Tim. 4:15)
Are we keeping close watch on our lives and on our teaching? (1 Tim. 4:16)
How are we caring for the widows of our church? (1 Tim. 5:3-16)
Are we being patient and ensuring that we aren’t taking part in people’s sins? (1 Tim. 5:22)
Are we being patient in seeing good works in people? (1 Tim. 5:25)
Are we deepening in godliness and contentment? (1 Tim. 6:6)
Are we avoiding the love of money? (1 Tim. 6:6-10)
Are we helping those who have money know how to use it and view it? (1 Tim. 6:17-19)
Are we always aware that we are stewards of the Lord’s Gospel? (1 Tim. 1:4, 11; 6:20)
I listened to the sermon Mark Dever preached on the Sunday I was installed as pastor at Del Ray Baptist Church. You can, and should, listen to it here. It is the best sermon I know to recommend to any pastor or church who wants to think well about what a pastor is and should do. This man has served me as a dear mentor and friend. I am eternally grateful for him.
5 of my favorite quotes:
“If you define success in terms of faithfulness, then you are in a position to persevere.” – Dever
“Do not tailor your church service to for people who have no love for God, that is a certain way to kill your church. You want to attract mature Christians and hungry non-Christians.” – Dever
“Run at a pace the congregation can keep up with.” – Dever
“Shepherd the flock in a way that you will not be ashamed on the day of the Lord.” – Dever
“We will never be faithful ministers in anything but appearance if we only consider the ministry in terms of this life…One day the sky will be rolled back like a scroll. Live and minister in light of that day.” – Dever
I also read Justin Taylor’s short account of John Piper’s last Sunday at Bethlehem Baptist and prayed that God would help me to be a faithful minister all the way until the end. Then I listened to John Piper’s recommendations of how to avoid ministry burn out. There is great gold in this brief segment.
15 Other Reflections on the Past Year of Pastoral Ministry
- When you follow Christ, Satan will oppose you.
- Friendship is a good gift from God. When it is absent, your soul withers, when it is present, there is life.
- You can do a lot without prayer, and that’s pretty scary.
- God is faithful, even when we are not.
- God loves to use weak and broken people for His glorious purposes.
- There is power in God’s Word, proclaim it with hope.
- Keep expectations low and strive to surpass them quietly.
- If you had more money in your bank account, you might not feel your need for God as much.
- Not everyone has to like your preaching. You aren’t called to pastor the world, just your church.
- God doesn’t always give us what we want, but He always gives us what we need.
- When things aren’t going your way, take it as God’s kind killing of your flesh. It is not always good for us to get what we want.
- As a church, we must always be building into ourselves while at the same time looking outside of ourselves. Keeping this balance is tough.
- There is no greater joy than to be served by Christ and to be in the service of Christ.
- The devil’s greatest tool may well be distraction.
- All of us are replaceable. I am just a steward for a season until my stewardship has ended.
The Psalmist says of the Lord “great is His steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 117:2). Those who know the Lord know His faithfulness. We struggle and stumble, but He never changes. Praise God for the way He continually teaches us and shapes us into the image of Christ.
Please join me in praising God for what He has done in our church over the past year. He is ever-faithful.